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Posts Tagged ‘David Tennant’


Back in July I wrote about the things that remain elusive in my family tree and the fanciful idea of finding a Royal connection. I sit here now with a piece of paper in front of me on which I have written the descent of William the Conqueror from Charlemagne because I’ve found that elusive piece of information thanks to a message I received from someone who happened to read my blog.

 

King William I (‘The Conqueror’) by Unknown artist.
oil on panel, circa 1620, purchased, 1974
Primary Collection. NPG 4980(1)
© National Portrait Gallery, London.

 

I know that pretty much everyone with British ancestry is more than likely related to Royalty somewhere along the line and that what I’ve found is anything but exclusive or special or even that interesting to most people, but it means something to me. You see, while we all may be related to the great and the good, and the not so good, those of us who are able to follow the trail back are a lot rarer.

 

I always assumed that if I was really lucky and found a connection it would be via a shared ancestor. I never imagined that I’d follow the trail back and find names like Lancaster and Plantagenet. You see, as it turns out, I’m descended from Henry III and Eleanor of Provence by two of their sons, Edward I (Edward Longshanks – Hammer of the Scots) and Edmund Crouchback. This, of course, means that I can trace my lineage back to William the Conqueror and Charlemagne and then further still.

 

The amount of “blue” blood flowing in my veins, if indeed there’s any at all, because after all who knows what went on behind closed doors, is infinitesimal. But I can draw up my family tree and see one branch of it stretching back nearly 1500 years and to me that is quite incredible. I can’t quite comprehend it and some would argue that the reason I can’t is because it’s meaningless. But instead of thinking of it in terms of years I look at William the Conqueror and I realise there are only thirty generations between us. Thirty! That seems a very small number to get back almost 1000 years. And after that it’s only another eleven to get back to Charlemagne.

 

I’m well aware that thirty generations back I should have over a billion ancestors but of course that would be more people than there were on the entire planet at that time so there’ll be a lot of common ancestors across the various branches of my family tree. I may even have other lines of descent from William the Conqueror. Who knows?

 

It seems funny to me that the very first family tree I ever drew was a Royal one. When I was a teenager there was a drama series on the television called Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. It told the story of Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. I was of an age, fifteen, where I was easily caught up in romance and fanciful ideas. I fell in love with the story and desperately wanted it to be true. I set about finding out how Anna Anderson would be related to Queen Elizabeth II had she turned out to be Anastasia. The relationship between the current British Royal family and the Russian Tsar is, of course, well documented, but I had no knowledge of it so I sat in the local library armed with the Dictionary of National Biography and various other books and wrote it all out. Imagine what my fifteen-year old self would have done with the knowledge that, not only was she distantly related to the entire Royal Family, but she was descended from Kings and Emperors, not to mention Vikings!

 

In many ways I’m still that fifteen-year old girl with fanciful ideas and endless daydreams. I must remember that just occasionally fanciful ideas are not so fanciful after all.

 


 

I went to the theatre on Tuesday evening. A long anticipated trip to Stratford-upon-Avon to see David Tennant play Richard II at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It was sublime, extraordinary, wonderful, moving, and every other superlative you might care to suggest. I’m a huge fan of David Tennant which is why I bought a ticket; however, seeing it just confirmed to me my love of Shakespeare. The fact that it happened to be Tennant playing the lead was simply a fabulous bonus.

 

David Tennant in Shakespeare’s Richard II at the RSC in Stratford. Source.

 

I mention this here because as the main characters were revealed upon the stage I was struck that I can now go to the theatre and see plays about people that I can legitimately add to my family tree. Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, banished forever by Richard II, is a distant great-uncle. He was brother to a direct ancestor of mine a mere twenty generations back. Fanciful ideas …

 

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When I decided to write a blog, I made a conscious decision not to blog about Richard Armitage. It’s no secret that I’m a great admirer of his, some might go so far as to say I’m a wee bit obsessed; however, in the ever-expanding Armitage blogosphere I decided that I had nothing meaningful to add. Selfishly I wanted to write about myself and the things that are important to me. I may have mentioned him once or twice along the way but essentially my blog is “Something about Kathryn”.

 

So … I’m not about to turn this into an Armitage blog but if I’m going to write about what’s important to me then he does have to be up there. He’s not on the same level as my family history, but, given a recent interest I’ve developed in another fine British actor, I find myself questioning why I’m so fascinated with Armitage and some others. Ultimately I’m questioning why they’re so important to me.

 

So who are these men? Yes, unsurprisingly they’re all men … and actors too. If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr there will probably be no surprises here – well maybe one:

Richard Armitage – no surprises. Known for The Hobbit, Spooks, Robin Hood, North & South.

David Tennant – an old favourite. Known for Doctor Who, Hamlet, Broadchurch, Casanova.

Benedict Cumberbatch – a growing attraction. Known for Star Trek Into Darkness, Sherlock, The Hobbit, Parade’s End, War Horse.

Tom Hiddleston – a new fascination. Known for Thor, The Avengers, The Hollow Crown, Midnight in Paris, War Horse, Return to Cranford.

 

Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks. Source.

 

I was first drawn to Richard Armitage whilst watching Spooks. An avid Spooks fan from the very beginning it was only at the end of series 9 that I realised quite how involved I’d become in the story of Lucas North / John Bateman. To cut a long story short, I think it’s fair to say that it was the Spooks fandom that drew me in but ultimately the Richard Armitage fandom that claimed me. I found myself hopelessly drawn to his other work, but it wasn’t just the characters that I was interested in. I found, as have so many others, that his charm, compassion, humour, talent, and unbridled enthusiasm for his work had me hooked. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that his good looks helped but, if I’m honest, he only became so attractive to me when I knew more about him as a person, or at least what he wants us to know. His use of language in interviews was probably my undoing – I’m such a sucker for a man who uses words and phrases that are missing from my own vocabulary – and he’s a self-confessed geek which is always a winner for me.

 

David Tennant as Doctor Who. Source.

 

Now, I’d been interested in David Tennant’s work since I first saw him in Doctor Who. Geek personified! Looks wise, he’s not the type of man I would normally find attractive, but there’s something about a man with a sonic-screwdriver I find hard to resist (Matt Smith is not on my list but he’s a definite contender). Looking at the man behind the Doctor I found that his attractiveness, for me, lay in his wit, charm, talent, eloquence and compassion. I saw him on stage in Much Ado About Nothing and if I wasn’t bowled over before, I definitely was afterwards. Goodness only knows what will happen after I see him in Richard II. Finally, he inspired me to make a promise.

 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. Source.

 

Benedict Cumberbatch is a strange one for me. For a long time, I kept seeing his face on Tumblr and was completely unable to understand the attraction that others felt for him. Then Sherlock happened. Geek personified – again – and a huge intellect too which I can’t resist. But then I realised that the man behind the detective had a great intellect too, was naturally witty, charming and wonderfully talented. Because of him, I intend to go and see Star Trek (something I never thought I’d do), and have found that his unusual looks are becoming more attractive to me every day. Then I read things like this and fall a little bit further under his spell.

 

Tom Hiddleston at the Olivier Awards. Source.

 

If any of these are going to surprise you then I guess it would be Tom Hiddleston. He’s not someone I’ve ever really mentioned on Twitter and, until a few days ago, I’d never posted any pictures of him on Tumblr either. For some time I was uncomfortable with the crush I was quickly developing because apart from Return to Cranford I hadn’t seen any of his work. For the first time, it was the man not the characters that first drew me in. It was his Unicef blogs from Guinea that got me: long words, beautiful phrasing, wonderful compassion. And I found that was just the tip of the iceberg. He has all those things I’ve admired in others and he has them in spades. I discovered that he doesn’t actually look like Loki in real life, a look that does nothing for me at all, and has an infectious joy that creeps out of the screen and into your heart without you even noticing. I’ve decided to be honest about this new fascination because I think I now understand it better.

 

All these men show qualities that I hugely admire and find endlessly attractive. Yes they’re good-looking, but they’re all men whose looks did absolutely nothing for me when I first saw them, even Richard Armitage.

 

My first Armitage experience was actually Robin Hood. I watched all three series when it was first on the television and never once noticed Guy of Gisborne except as a character to be disliked. With both television and films I’m a very shallow viewer and will often miss the nuances of character that others thrive on. I didn’t like the character, and his long hair (each to their own but that wasn’t for me) meant I didn’t notice if he was good-looking.

 

So why are these men so important to me? I can confidently say these are not simply lustful obsessions. I’m drawn to certain characteristics especially intellect when matched with fun, kindness and decency. I seem to be attracted to men who I see as being intellectually superior to me. I look for the things that were missing in the past when my own intellect was a source of humour and derision. It’s only now that I realise that the behaviour of certain people in my past says more about their own insecurities than it does about mine.

 

If anyone was to ask me what I look for in a man, I could do a lot worse than point out the characteristics of these men who I so admire. I’m not looking for a man exactly like any of them, they just happen to epitomise the things I find most attractive. They’re important to me because they have qualities to admire, are inspiring in ways I cannot fully fathom, and because they bring me great joy.

 

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I’d already donated money to Comic Relief on Friday night when David Tennant made his impassioned plea, but if I hadn’t, that would have been enough to persuade me.

 

I always try to give to charity where I can, but I’m just as guilty as the next person of sitting complacently on my sofa watching Comic Relief or Children in Need while some celebrity cries on my TV screen. I may even have rolled my eyes. I’ve laughed at the entertainment, I’ve cheered as the total rises and then I’ve slept soundly having given nothing, and all simply because I couldn’t be bothered.

 

I am lucky enough to have never been in a position where I can’t afford to give at least a small amount. Even now, with no job, I can easily spare a little. And it doesn’t take much:

  • £1 will pay for one child in Uganda to be tested for malaria so they can get quick diagnosis and life-saving treatment. Just £1 to save a life!
  • £3 will provide hot meals for 4 children living in extreme poverty in the UK, something most of us take for granted.
  • £5 will buy an insecticide treated bed net – it will protect someone in Africa from being bitten by mosquitoes while they sleep. Malaria kills – the net could save their life.
  • £5 will pay for a vaccine that will protect a child in Malawi against deadly diseases such as tetanus and hepatitis B – here in the UK childhood vaccinations are freely available to all.
  • £10 could provide vital information to 100 armed forces veterans who are experiencing mental health problems, so they know where to turn for help. They risked their lives for us, £10 is a small price to pay in return.
  • £20 will buy a Braille kit enabling a blind child in Kenya to have a proper education. Every child in the UK receives a free and full education regardless of what physical challenges they may face.
  • £30 will pay for the training of a volunteer to provide support to an isolated elderly man in the UK. No-one should grow old completely alone.
  • £50 could keep a homeless child safe, fed and off the streets for a whole month in Uganda. Think about that when you curl up under your duvet at night.
  • £100 will provide vital support to a young woman in the UK who is being sexually exploited, helping her stay safe and healthy, and take the first steps towards a new life. She is someone’s daughter, sister, cousin…

 

I don’t mean to preach, I just never fully appreciated that so much good could be done with so little.

 

If you’ve ever researched your family tree then you will no doubt be aware that the further back you delve into your genealogy the more ancestors you have in each generation, the number increasing exponentially. Just 21 generations back you had over 2 million ancestors. Bearing this in mind, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that somehow we are all related to each other, that everyone in the world is just one gigantic family. We are all connected and we all need each other to survive. This was never more apparent to me than when watching Comic Relief.

 

The stories I saw on the television on Friday night moved me immeasurably: children dying from preventable diseases, mothers dying so their children can live, young people suffering abuse, people living with HIV and AIDS. I am so lucky and so privileged to live the way I do. Watching made me feel ashamed for being dissatisfied with my lot.

 

I can’t promise to never wish for something more from life; that is human nature. But, I do promise that I will never be “that person” again – the one that sits there and watches but does nothing. If all I can afford to give is £1 then I will remember that even an amount as small as that can help to save a life.

 

Give what you can, because every little helps. Don’t do nothing. Don’t be that person.

 


 
 
To find out more about Comic Relief and the work they do, or to donate, please visit their website by clicking here.

There is also information on the Red Nose Day website which you can visit by clicking here.

I obtained the information above about what your money can do from TK Maxx and the Red Nose Day fund-raising kit which can be downloaded from this page.

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